The Plague: Will it Ever End?

Europe, 1349

Bands of hooded men, wearing white robes marked front and back with a red cross, are moving to and fro across Europe, attempting to atone for the ravages of the Black Death by whipping themselves in ritual public ceremonies.

The Flagellant Brahren, as they are known, believe that the plague is a punishment for human sin, and that by scourging themselves they can show mankind's repentance. They travel in parties of anything from 50 to 500 men, and are high ly organized. Led by a layman - the master - they move from town to town to perform their rituals. Singing hymns and sobbing, the men beat themselves with scourges studded with iron spikes. Blood gushes from their many wounds, and the spikes embed themselves in the torn flesh. The ritual is perform ed in public twice each day.

Such exhibitions are highly influential. The establishment may focus their attacks on church corruption and their promotion of a wave of savage anti-Semitism. but the masses worship the flagellants as living martyrs. Their deeds are to be admired and their commands to be carried out.

For more accounts at this site see:
The Plague
Black Death Spreads
I Saw the Death
The Medieval Miracles of Healing -- Medical Science

For more accounts at different sites see:
The Plague: an account from Boccaccio's The Decameron
Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe
The Black Plague - graphic intensive and loads somewhat slowly, but contains excellent pictures and an interesting account.
Go to index
Created Dec 8 1994 by Aaron Rice (jar22@email.byu.edu)
a Timpview High School student
in partnership with the
David O. McKay School of Education
Brigham Young University